Santini trainer Nicky Henderson has all but ruled the seven-year-old out of December’s King George VI Chase despite his Sandown win. According to the trainer, Santini’s performance “was not earth-shatteringly impressive,” something which leaves him in doubt as it relates to taking on the upcoming race.
The five-time, first-place winner is expected to be a contender for the Cheltenham Gold Cup by the time it rolls around, though.
Santini was one of four runners, none counting as a natural pace-setter but all returning from a summer break trod on softer turf. While the thoroughbred ended up winning the race, Henderson was hardly impressed with the run and admitted that he was expecting a loss.
“Hard work, wasn’t it?” he said, per The Guardian. “He was rusty and dusty. It did look laboured. He hasn’t come out and started the season with a bang, I’ll be the first to admit. I thought he’d got beat, to be honest with you.”
Nico de Boinville, Santin’s jockey, added that there’s still plenty of work to be done and is of the view that Santini could have an advantage at Cheltenham because of the course.
“The pace was just a bit stop/start the entire way,” he explained. “I know the second horse runs in snatches. We were trying to help each other along and we ended up at the post together. There’s plenty to work on but we know the ability’s there.
“He wants big, galloping tracks. The Gold Cup course at Cheltenham will play into his hands. The Old Course in the RSA played against us, in a way. The improvement will come.”
Henderson also noted that this latest run was only the fourth for the horse over fences, claiming that he had a horrible season in 2018 as his races were thrown completely out of sync.
“ think you’d have to say he doesn’t look like a King George horse,” he declared. “That’s not his track. I think you put a line through the King George.”
Santini is still listed among competitors for the December 26 event by the bookmakers and is 16/1 to win with Sky Bet. If you’re keen on getting the lowdown on today’s horse betting tips, look no further than oddsmanager.co.uk. You could also find the best bets available on a daily basis right here.
Meanwhile, Altior is the current favourite, with Bet365 offering 5/2 odds on a win for the Irish-bred thoroughbred. Ladbrokes has 5/1 going on Cyrname while Clan des Obeaux is also 5/1 with Betfair. Both Kemboy and Lostintranslation are at 7/1 with Bet365, who are also handing out bets of 12/1 on Road to Respect.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup comes farther down the road, with the event set for March 13 next year. Santini is at 10/1 with William Hill, Kemboy is 6/1 with Bet365, Al Boum Photo is 7/1 with Marathon Bet and Betfred have 7/1 odds going on Lostintranslation.
Santini will need likely another run before he starts preparations for Cheltenham in January and there aren’t many options available. Of course, a King George appearance is still possible and if you reckon he’s going to race despite what his trainer’s said, then you wouldn’t mind having a go at the 40/1 odds on offer over the possibility.